Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One Good Turn, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Thanks to Vince Sweeney, who gave me a mention in his blog, http://vincesweeney.com/. It's a discussion of our first experiences looking for work in broadcasting.

Last week, I told the story of being rejected by WCDL in Carbondale. Yes, it was my first radio turn down, but not the first time I didn't get the broadcasting job I sought.

My first failure was at WDAU. I actually interviewed for a job in the mail room when the station was in the basement of Scranton Prep. Yes, the mail room. The mail room was more important back then. There was no e-mail, and there wasn't any satellite delivery of programming. The year, I believe, was 1980.

Stand by for what radio DJ "The Greaseman" calls a "geezer moment." Before satellites, television producers and syndicators actually made dubs (copies) and mailed the film or video to television stations. Take Goodson/Todman for example. It produced "To Tell the Truth." Let's say the show aired on 150 stations. Instead of making 150 dubs, which was costly, it made considerably fewer. WCBS received week one's shows. WDAU received week two. WBNG received week three. WHP received week four, and so on. When WDAU was finished with its tapes, it sent the them to another television station for airing. TV stations swapped tapes until every week in the programming cycle was broadcast. The practice was called "bicycling." Now, everyone tapes a satellite feed at a designated time and the shows are delivered to every station simultaneously. A bit of trivia-- the guy who really got the satellite thing off and running was Merv Griffin. Smart man. It allowed him to have more timely shows. A big star could sit on the couch with Merv and promote a new movie just before the premiere rather than wait for programs to make their way around the country.

Anwyway, I remember showing up at Prep, being led down a long, dark green hallway, and being interviewed by a very nice man named Carl Reiner. No, it wasn't the guy from the Dick Van Dyke Show. We had a short talk, and I was on my way. I don't know why I didn't get the job. Never found out. Never asked. I'm okay with it, even though I really wanted it. Please see last week's reference to "a foot in the door" in broadcasting, even if it was the mail room.

Moral of the story: sometimes, what doesn't happen to you is more important than what does.

By the way, I've had far more great experiences in this business than bad ones, and I'll share those stories one of these days.

One other note: BrainyHistory.com says Channel 22 signed on 55 years ago June 7. Congratulations!